Might it be time to call it quits?
My best friend is
finally dumping her jerk husband of more than a decade and I’m glad about that but it’s
all wearing me to a nub.
Her frenzied dating is making me nuts. She talks about her boyfriends
constantly, and about how many men are chasing her. She is convinced her life
will be right back on track when she has a boyfriend, even though the divorce
isn’t even final yet.
She’s really into psychotherapy which I hope might help her. I think she needs to stabilize before she gets involved with anyone but who am
I to say? I don’t know how to be supportive, honest, and not make my tongue
bleed by biting it all at the same time.
I used to think that when she finally got away from her husband, who was
emotionally abusive, she would grow into the woman she could be and our
friendship would deepen. Now I just don’t know. I’m feeling distant from her
Sounds like you’ve had a
hard time supporting your BFF’s choices almost as long as you’ve known her but
you deluded yourself into thinking her rotten choice of mate was
circumstantial: that she simply picked the wrong guy and had a hard time
getting out of it.
In large part, people choose their circumstances, and if they don’t because
they’ve fallen into them by mistake, they do have the free will to change them.
Eighteen years of abuse must have eroded your friend’s self-esteem completely.
What half-normal person would put up with all that stuff for that long?
Admittedly, this is probably a very difficult time for your BFF. She must worry
about whether she will eventually land on the ground with both feet
standing—and you may be wondering the same thing about her too!
Being indiscriminately “boy-crazy” diverts a woman from thinking about their own
life (How do I know? Been there, done thatJ).
Her interest in psychotherapy suggests that on some level, she would like to find
her true self.
But let’s get back to you. It’s impossible to support a friend when you
consistently don’t support her choices, unless she has other qualities that
outweigh the negative ones. The value of every female friendship is determined
by how well it meets our needs—I like to call this the concept of
reciprocity. Friendships usually work when two friends feel like they are
giving each other more—or at least as much—as they are getting. Sounds like
this one isn’t working for you.
In this circumstance, what are your choices? You can leave things as they are
and bite your tongue (but I think you are having a problem doing that or you
wouldn’t have written to me). You can tell her things she isn’t ready to hear.
Or there is one more approach that I think is the most prudent. I suggest that
you take a friendship sabbatical.
You need to step back and give your friend
time to work things out—and you need to give yourself time to think about
whether the friendship is worth the angst. You can tell your friend that you
need some time and space for yourself but you really care about her and what
she is going through. In the meantime, spend more time with other friends and
see if they can fill the deficit. Let me know what you decide and how it goes.